This week at Casey: 21 November 2008

The 2008 Casey winter officially ended at 12.40pm last Friday after 273 days when the 2 CASA 212 planes landed safely at Casey Skiway. The four pilots Jorn G, John L-S, Troy F and Rod R are no strangers to Casey, having been involved in the flying operations last summer and were well known to the winterers.

The station population is now 23, but it seemed as if we had many more new arrivals as a breath of fresh air spread over the entire station with stimulating discussion in the mess and new enthusiasm in the kitchen.

CASA 212 aircraft VHA 'Ginger' landing at Casey Skiway.
VHA 'Ginger' landing at Casey Skiway.
Photo: Luc
Casey Station Expeditioners during refuelling on CASA 212 aircraft
Luc and Brad during the refuelling operation.
Photo: Luc

Casey Station Expeditioners refuelling CASA 212 aircraft at Casey Skiway
Refuelling the aircraft.
Photo: Luc
Casey Station expeditioners refuelling Casa 212 aircraft VHB 'Gadget'.
Refuelling VHB 'Gadget'.
Photo: Luc

Low-level cloud and mainly overcast conditions for the whole of Tuesday prevented the CASA's from flying to Davis.

As mentioned previously, it has been a never ending battle at Wilkins keeping the camp clear of snow. In order to try and keep on top of the work, several of the vans were returned to the winter berm thus reducing the snow deposition. Garry, Sam, Brownie and Wayne have put in a mighty effort in keeping the camp operational.

Vans from Wilkins Runway parked on the winter berm
The winter berm with vans.
Photo: Todor

Tom and Tod travelled to Wilkins to service the 2 automatic weather stations (AWS) and to stabilise the Wilkins East AWS .

Casey Station Expeditioner climbing the AWS (Automatic Weather Station) mast at Wilkins East.
Tod ascending the mast on AWS Wilkins East.
Photo: Todor
Casey Station Expeditioners using bulldozer to move snow and stabilise the AWS (Automatic Weather Station)
Sam in the dozer, guided by Tom, pushing snow towards the AWS.
Photo: Todor
Casey Station Expeditioner about to compact the snow around the AWS (Automatic Weather Station) sled.
Tom about to compact the snow around the AWS sled.
Photo: Todor

This week Heleen has been conducting the last of our monthly medical examinations as well as taking the last of the blood samples in the Vitamin D study. Luc has been in the excavator moving mountains of snow in front of the Red Shed whilst Brad has been changing tracks on the Hägglunds.

Leighton is preparing the store for the arrival of the ship and Dominic and Dan, in addition to their technical work, have handled an increase in the communication traffic with vehicles going to both Wilkins and the Skiway as well as with the planes flying from Dumont D'Urville to Casey.

With changeover only a couple of weeks away, two field parties managed to spend some nights in the Peterson Melon.

The melon shelter on Petersen Island south of Casey Station
The Peterson Melon shelter.
Photo: Bob

The Adélie penguins are back in huge numbers and the first eggs have been sighted not only by us, but also by the skuas who are conducting bombing raids over the colonies. Elephant seals and leopard seals have been recorded on both Shirley Island and Peterson Island.

Bull elephant seal on Peterson Island near Casey Station
Male elephant seal on Peterson Island.
Photo: Craig
Leopard seal near Casey Station
Leopard seal.
Photo: Bob

On Peterson Island there are enormous numbers of snow petrels and Wilson storm petrels which seem to be very active during the night, making lots of noise whereas in the morning all is quiet and the birds are present in much smaller numbers. When approaching the high cliffs, another bird was heard calling with a kookaburra-like call. On closer inspection it was found to be a Cape Petrel.

A pair of Cape petrels on Petersen Island near Casey Station
A pair of Cape petrels.
Photo: Tom

On Peterson Island there are many colonies of Adélie penguins and an attractive cluster of colonies was sighted around a frozen fresh water lake.

Casey Station Expeditioners with the Vanderford glacier in the distance.
Looking SSE with Craig and Tom in the foreground and the Vanderford glacier in the distance.
Photo: Bob
Looking North-north-west with Adelie colonies around a frozen lake.
The opposite view to the previous photo looking NNW with Adélie colonies around a frozen lake in the centre of the photo.
Photo: Bob

In the 2008 Casey Yearbook, Tom wrote that "contrary to popular belief, the world of Met keeps chugging along 16 hrs a day, seven days a week… and YES, that does include weekends and public holidays!"

Who are we to doubt him? And here he is on a jolly, hard at work with the mighty Kestrel 4000, confirming what we already knew – that it was basically a fine day.

Casey Station Senior Weather Observer with pocket weather meter at Petersen Island
Tom with the Kestrel 4000 pocket weather meter.
Photo: Bob

In conclusion here is another of Tod's photos depicting long shadows on the plateau late at night.

Long shadows on the plateau near casey STation
Long shadows on the plateau.
Photo: Todor

To all those travelling on Voyage 2, we wish you a safe voyage and hope to see you all soon.